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"God is present with us, are his words to Lucilius; "he The lofty strains of Pindar resounded through the streets of
And, as their professed incentives to virtue were thus per-
sense of guilt, a desire of expiation, a confidence in that mercy It is urged, however, on the other hand, and the objection whose everlasting gates are open to receive the penitent. is as old as the time of St. Augustin, that the seeming vir- And, that some at least of the sacrifices offered by the heatues of the heathen were prompted by human motives only, then, were not offered to evil or imaginary beings; that there and not from any desire of pleasing God, or from any prac- were not wanting those, in ancient times, who regarded the tical application of that degree of knowledge, which they can- several greater divinities of Polytheism as only different titles not be denied to have possessed respecting him. But it is of the One Supreme; that, with by far the greater portion of one of the most generally acknowledged positions in Chris- the multitude themselves, an awful distinction was made betian ethics, that the searcher of our hearts does not form his tween the father of gods and men and the herd of subaltern judgment of our conduct by the outward action only, but by immortals; that, lastly, the name itself of Jupiter or Jove is, the fountain, yet more, from which those actions flow. And probably, nothing more than a corrupt pronunciation of Jehoit will follow, that a seeming good deed, if it be secretly vah; as Cudworth and others have long since elaborately prompted by self-interest, or passion, or pride, so far from shown, I need do no more than call to your recollection. Nor being lovely in the eyes of an Omniscient Being, may, in can it be doubted, that the common faith in a God and the proportion to the sordid nature of its motives, and not without universal institution of sacrifice are alike the relics of that a reference to the hypocrisy wherewith those motives are con- primeval and patriarchial religion, whose altars have smoked cealed, be an object of indignation and punishment. And this wherever man has passed to raise them; and which was apmay explain the apparentlý harsh assertion of Augustin, that pointed as a pledge of expected salvation, not to the Jews “the virtues of the heathen were only sirs;" and may fully alone, but to every descendant of Adam. justify the more guarded censure conveyed in the thirteenth Nor can we reasonably doubt that symbols of expiation, article of our church, on "works done before the grace of originally appointed or approved by the Holy Ghost, were Christ, and the inspiration of his Spirit.”
available and helpful even to those who obeyed the form withIf, therefore, the apparent virtues of the heathen can be out understanding its inward mystery ; who sought atonetraced to impure or earthly sources, it is obviously worse than ment for sin through the blood of unoffending animals, though idle to adduce such counterfeits of heroism as proofs that they they were ignorant of the one great sacrifice of which their had the help of God's grace: and it beloves us to inquire by hecatombs were types and shadows. every light in our power, whether the principles of action by The Jews themselves, to whose holocausts we cannot deny which these ancient worthies were swayed, were really the a reflected efficacy, were, notwithstanding, if we rely on the same with those which only can proceed from celestial inspi- accordant authority of the whole New Testament, little better ration ; a desire, that is, to serve and please the Almighty, acquainted than the Gentile world with those destined sufferand a practical faith that he is the rewarder of such as dili- ings of the Messiah, to which their symbols bore a prophetic gently seek him."
reference. Nor, has any reason as yet been offered, why the But, that we cannot, without a gross defect in that charity ignorant Gentile might not, as well as the ignorant Israelite, which “hopeth all things," deny that such a principle was derive imparted blessedness from a faithful though unskilful to many, at least, of their actions, the main and master spring, use of those appointed means of grace which were ordained is apparent from the assertions of their poets as well as their because of offences, till that seed should come on whom the philosophers, who had no interest in ascribing to their coun-offences of the world were laid. trymen and contemporaries a motive with which no heart Between a type, indeed, and a sacrament, as the one is a could sympathize, nor could have themselves conceived or de- shadow of good things to come, the other a representation or scribed a motive of which their own hearts were altogether memorial of good things already received, the distinction is insensible.
of the same kind as that which exists between a prophecy The decrepid husbandman, who could not himself hope to and a history, of which the latter is nothing if it be not intelreap the harvest of his toil, was content, as we are assured by ligible and actually understood; but the former may be faiththe Roman moralist, to “labour for the gods who never die." fully and profitably used by those by whom its secret mean
To Plato, to Pindar, to the Grecian comic writers, the idea ing is either utterly unknown, or, at best, very imperfectly of a future retribution seems to have been ever awfully pres- comprehended. Thus, if the narrative of Moses were, as ent. " There is a God," saith the captive in Plautus, by some have fancied, allegorical, it would, doubtless, be to whom our words and actions are both heard and seen; it shall those who knew not its hidden meaning a vehicle of falsego well with him who deserveth well, and he who doeth evil hood only; but the Apocalypse of St. John may be studied shall receive the like again :" and the fear of those gods "by with instruction, (and a blessing is promised to those who whom our good and evil deeds are remembered," was the meditate its prophecies), though ihey should understand erroargument which Virgil supposed best qualified to soften the neously, or not attempt to understand at all the several events hearts and conciliate the hospitality of a barbarous and sus- which are therein mysteriously shadowed, contented with picious people.
that general certainty which it every where inculcates, of the Nor is that true, which has been sometimes asserted in the providential care extended over good men, and the final triardour of speculative controversy, that these motives of ac- umph of Christ's kingdom. tion, or the future life on which, mainly, they depend, were In a sacrament, accordingly, we acknowledge with gratiinvolved by the heathen in the gloom of their sacred colleges; tude that definite act of mercy whereby the Almighty has that they were the suspicions of their priests and sages only, already freed the world from the dreadful consequences or revealed, at times, and sparingly, to the perishing multi- of sin; and it is therefore absolutely necessary to our tude, through the " ivory gate” of symbolical ceremonies, worthy participation, that we should understand the evils and under the sanction of mysterious secrecy.
from which we are preserved, and the manner in which we The creed of poetry is always the creed of the vulgar. have been delivered. But in a typical sacrifice the penitent
VOL. II.2 M
offender looked forward with humble hope to an undefined outward form is a symbol or representation of Christ's death, but implied atonement; and the means whereby this atone- we in like manner express our perseverance in our profession ment was to be effected, as they were a mystery as yet in the of faith once made; we implore the pardon of the Most High bosom of God, so a knowledge of their nature was, clearly, for our subsequent transgressions, and his grace to assist us not essential to those objects for which God had instituted for the time to come. But, though the forms enjoined be exthe prophetic ceremony.
pressive of those great events on which we found our hopes And, as the significant nature of the ceremony itself was, of heaven, yet is it to these events themselves, and not to no less than the uniform tradition of their ancestors, sufficient their images and material representations, that we look for evidence to the pious Gentile, that the Almighty had, for peace and pardon: nor is our use of the appointed form exwhatever reasons, appointed this mode of expiation for sin, so pressive of any thing else than our hearty desire and humble was it no less incumbent on the Gentile than the Jew to bring hope of grace and forgiveness. his oblations to the Most High: no less than the Jew, the The spirit and internal principle of sacrifice are the same Gentile might expect, through such atonement, forgiveness with those of prayer; as the last of these is often styled a from their common Father and Judge; and the piety and pen- vocal offering, so may the former be without impropriety deitence of the great family of mankind, no less than the fined as a silent entreaty; and sacraments, which are an obpiety and penitence of the chosen and peculiar nation, must lation of ourselves to God's service, and a token of our have proceeded from the Spirit of God.
desire that he would grant us his love and favour, no otherIf, then, these ordinary aids of grace, this internal influence wise differ from the expression of the same sentiments in by which' alone we are enabled to profit from external means prayer, than as the language of ceremony and symbol differs of knowledge, have been accorded to many both the Jews from the language of the tongue. But, as it is by convention and Heathens, it is plain that, in this sense at least of the only that either our actions or our words are significant, it expression, the fellowship of the Holy Ghost is no distinctive was, a priori, as natural that our heavenly Benefactor should badge or peculiar privilege of Christians, and it is still more appoint the one as the other to be expressive, in his presence, evident that such a benefit could not have been consistently of our wants and our affections. And as every benefactor has held forth by the Messiah as a compensation to his Apostles an undoubted right to determine what services he will refor his own departure from the world. For, as I have shown squire, and what acknowledgment he will receive; it follows, in a former Lecture, the continuance of one blessing is no that we are to approach the mercy seat of God in whatever compensation for the loss of another; and, doubtless, if to manner is most pleasing to him, and that we must thank him any of Jewish or Heathen race such salutary influence had been for past favours, and entreat his future protection in those accorded, the grace of God, which sanctifieth to salvation, words or by those ceremonies which he hath himself thought had not been denied to those who were called by Christ; fit to institute. who had through faith obeyed the call, and who, in the course To this we are bound under the implied and most righteous of the conversation here recorded, had been styled by God penalty of having our requests rejected, if, despising the orhimself, his friends.
dinance of God, we offer them in any other than the comI conclude, then, that the prophecy of Christ, which has manded form; and to this we are moved by the implied furnished a text for these discourses, is not fulfilled by the assurance of Christ, that, asking in the manner which he dispensation (however such bounty may be purchased for us himself has chosen, our prayer shall not return without its by his merits only) of the ordinary and sanctifying graces of answer. the Holy Ghost. It is, indeed, most true, (and for a reason It is therefore that, the ceremony of baptism performed, which will appear in the sequel), that this internal and gra- we proclaim with so much holy confidence that our prayers cious influence, as enjoyed by the Christian church, is more are already heard, and the neophyte even now adopted. It is mightily blessed to the salvation of souls than it ever was for this reason that, after the celebration of the eucharist, we in the days of old and while the veil was on the face of na- thank the Almighty for assuring the devout participant in ture. And it is also true that the event which has produced those holy mysteries, that he is a member incorporate into this important difference in its ordinary efficacy is no other the mystical body of his Lord: and it is in this well-founded than that very dispensation of God the Holy Ghost which hope that we style the Christian sacraments, in our public Christ has described, in his prophecy, as the advent of the Com- formularies of instruction, the pledges of our Master's love. forter. But I need not caution my present hearers aganst con- Not that we conceive any necessary or mysterious connex. founding the effect produced with the circumstance which has ion between the forms themselves and the grace of which produced it,—and wherein this last named and peculiar bless- they are the outward image; far less that any overt and voling consists, is a question which will yet remain for discuss- untary action of our own can possibly be a proof or token of ion in a future lecture. The remainder of my present dis- the good-will of another person towards us: but because the course must be chiefly employed in obviating two material words of Christ enjoining us to seek such blessings by such objections, which may, not impossibly, occur to several ceremonies are in truth a most ample pledge that our service among my auditors against the system which supposes God's thus rendered is acceptable to God, and that we are consesanctifying grace to have extended to the Jews and Heathens. quently entitled to look forward in humble confidence to the
That system, I am aware, may be accused of detracting blessing which we seek at his hands. The sacraments, acfrom the efficacy of sacramental ordinances, and even from cordingly, are styled the means whereby we receive grace; the necessity of faith in the peculiar doctrines of Christianity, not as if they were vehicles through which the Spirit of grace And as either one or the other of these imputations would thinks fit exclusively to convey his gifts to the hearts of men, be sufficient, if well founded, to overturn the most plausible but because they are the appointed medium of our devout and hypothesis, I am most anxious to show, before we proceed acceptable aspirations to his throne. They are not the means any farther in our inquiry, that neither the one nor the other whereby God gives us grace, but they are the means whereby are consequences with which my opinion is justly charge- we ask and obtain grace from God : and it is evident that we able; that this opinion is perfecily consistent with the im-cannot, if either the one or the other be wilfully neglected, portance of Christianity itself, and of the symbols whereby expect from our Maker either pardon of our sins, or that spirits mysterious benefits are represented; and that the valueitual assistance whereby only we are enabled to serve and of both will be yet more firmly established, when disencum- please him. bered from those extraneous circumstances with which the Nor can any consideration more strongly evince the danindiscreet veneration of some learned men has adorned them. gerous error or still more perilous obstinacy of those who,
It will, in the first place, be readily acknowledged by the from mistaken principle refuse, or from fondness for the advocate of universal grace, that with us, to whom the know-world neglect, observances in themselves so rational, and ledge of the gospel is given, and who are called, by that commanded by such awful authority. merciful communication, to enrol ourselves in the army of From the correspondence thus explained between sacraChrist's faithful followers on earth, the sacraments which mental and devotional ordinances, it is evident that the pracChrist has ordained are not only the solemn and indispensa- tice of infant baptism may be defended on a different and, ble forms of expressing our allegiance and fidelity, but the perhaps, a more satisfactory ground than the usual arguments necessary and appointed means whereby we are to seek at derived from precedent and human authority. For whether God's hands for grace and hope and happiness. In baptism, the infant be a legitimate object of covenant or no, it is cerwhich is the outward sign or image of that death unto sin tain that he is a proper subject of prayer and intercession; and new birth unto righteousness, which we, through Christ, and the devoting of a child to the service of his Maker, and receive, we declare our faith in him, and our desire to be ad- the supplication that his heavenly King would dispose him mitted, through his merits, to the privileges which his death in due time to ratify those engagements, when, above all, our has purchased for mankind. In the eucharist, of which the lown endeavours may by education mainly contribute to the
end proposed, is a proceeding, surely, no less reasonable, left without sufficient grounds of peculiar exultation and grathan it is pious and affecting and charitable.
titude; nor shall we lose those motives which by every bond But it will also follow from the above definition of a sacra- of love and pity would induce us to labour in the conversion ment, that the necessity either of baptism or the eucharist of our heathen brethren. can only rest with those to whom their obligation is known, While we contend that the heathen have received such a and their observance possible; and that we cannot, on any measure of knowledge and of grace, as, when properly imprinciple of reason or revelation, exclude any part of mankind proved, may elevate some of them, through the merits of from those benefits which the blood of Christ has bought for Christ, to a seat even in the Christian paradise ; while we all, on the plea of inevitable or ignorant noncompliance with delight to reckon among our future associates in glory the the positive institutions of Christianity. Were it otherwise, wise and virtuous of every age and every country, it will the parallel would altogether fail between the rites of circum- not, therefore, follow, that more of the benighted multitude cision and baptism, the passover and the eucharist, inasmuch might not have been wise and virtuous, had they enjoyed the as the Jew was pardoned, who, during his abode in the wil- same advantages with ourselves. It will not follow that those derness, or, afterwards, from bodily infirmity, omitted the who sinned against the degree of light allowed them might former rite. Nor was the Holy Ghost at any time bestowed not have repented in sackcloth and ashes, had they known in more ample measure than on those prophets of Israel's those important truths of whose value we are so negligent, or captivity, who were, by their situation, effectually excluded that those, be they many or few, who have been snatched as from all participation in the appointed offerings for sin. brands from the burning, might not, with greater means of
And, though our Saviour insists, in his conference with improvement, have attained to greater blessedness. Nicodemus, on baptismal no less than spiritual regeneration An equality of gifts or graces is nowhere to be found in the as equally necessary to the character of a perfect Christian, analogy of nature or religion: nor is it any imputation on the yet does the whole tenour of his argument imply, that these justice or mercy of God, that, where enough is given to all, were not the same but different things; which, though neither he offers more to some than to others. But it is the duty of of them was, without the other, sufficient to make us mem- the favoured part to remedy this seeming partiality, and to bers of his church, might exist, nevertheless, distinctly and remember, that the more advantages have fallen to their with different individuals. And, in point of fact, and if we share, the more clearly are they marked out by the common take as our example the particular case of Nicodemus, so far parent as instruments of dispersion and distribution. The from internal grace being the effect of baptism only, this rich must feed the hungry, the seeing must conduct the blind; order appears to have been absolutely reversed, inasmuch as the Christian must join his efforts with the church towards a considerable spiritual change had already taken place in the illumination of heathen darkness. the Jewish Rabbi, who acknowledged Christ to be a teacher And, while we indulge our gratitude for that unspeakable come from God, although his remaining prejudices or timid-gift of the Gospel whereby we are admitted to the inmost ity as yet forbade the public profession of this faith by sanctuary of mercy, and rendered spectators of those secret baptism.
springs of grace, from whose diffusive dews and larger chanOu the whole, if we admit that, to those whom God hath nels the universal earth derives fertility; let us remember, commanded thus to approach him, the sacramental ordinances that not as spectators only, should we approach the well-head are indispensable means of grace; it will from thence by no of salvation; and that, unless we drink more deeply of its means follow, that no other inlei of scriptural hope remains purer stream, the virtues of the heathen will hereafter be for those to whom such opportunities are denied: nor if, on reckoned to our shame, when they shall come from the east the other hand, we maintain, that his mercy may dispense to and from the west to sit down in the kingdom of God, and others, where he will, and freely, those powerful aids for when the men of Nineveh and the queen of the south shall which himself hath taught us to pray, can we therefore hope rise up against us in judgment! that our disobedience will meet with the same indulgence as I have now examined the most important, indeed the only their misfortune. The arm of God is not so short or feeble serious objection which occurs to me as likely to be urged as that his Spirit should be confined to those who after a par- against the doctrine of my present lecture; and have shown, ticular form desire it; but neither is the word of God so I trust, satisfactorily, both from profane and sacred testimony, changeable as that he can be expected to communicate or to that both Jews and Pagans may have been partakers like ourcontinue his sanctifying grace to the church on any other selves in the graces of the Holy Ghost, and inheritors with us, terms than those on which he first engaged to grant it. through Jesus Christ, of everlasting life and glory.
The importance, then, of the initiative and commemorative But from the facts which I have established, we are authorceremonies of our religion, as necessary means of asking and sized to deduce some important though incidental corollaries. obtaining God's help and favour, will remain more firmly 1st. While by expressly attributing to the grace of God fixed than ever; though they will be deprived, perhaps, of every single instance of good, whether done or thought, or that unreasonable dignity which assigns to them not only a spoken, we cut up by the roots all human pride, and all tenrelative value as expressions of our faith and hope, but a dency to Pelagian error, it is apparent that we exhibit in a yet positive efficacy which no act of our own, except with this clearer point of view the improbability of that opposite syslimitation, can claim. Nor is the awful danger which be- tem, which supposes that sanctifying grace is, wherever belongs to a perverse rejection of revealed religion, impaired or stowed, irresistibly exerted ; and which, by referring our desslighted by the defender of that hypothesis which admits the tiny to a previous infallible decree, would leave to the human uninstructed heathen to a share in God's sanctifying grace: will but an empty name of freedom. For since no single innor are the blessings undervalued which follow from a faith- stance can be found in Scripture where the title of Elect is ful profession of that doctrine which maketh wise to eternal assigned to any other than Christians, and since it is assigned glory.
in the Epistles of St. Paul to communities of Christians geneBetween inevitable ignorance and a wilful refusal of offered rally and without exception; it must follow that it denotes knowledge, the difference is great indeed. And, though the some privilege in which all Christians and Christians only help of the Most High has sometimes girded those who participate. But if there be certain heathens from whom have been constrained, in the darkness of heathenism, to seek sanctification to eternal life is not withheld, and if there be after a God whom they knew not, what hope left for him certain Christians (as is too lamentably and familiarly known) who hath done despite to the Spirit of grace, and hath openly who, by their own ingratitude, have lost all claim to this inrejected that Prince and Saviour by whom and for whose estimable privilege, it must follow that the election spoken of sake the power is given to repent, and repentance rendered by St. Paul has reference to some other blessing than that with available ?
which the followers of Augustin are accustomed to identify it. But error of all kinds, even conscientious or invincible Nor can any doubt remain, that the only privileges to which error, can never be accounted any other than a very great and this election applies are a knowledge in this world of God's grievous misfortune. From such, though grace be not with- more perfect will, and a share in the comforts of the gospel ; held, yet (as the strength and character of the motives and a preference, no doubt, sufficiently great to call forth our unprinciples which that grace recalls to our mind must depend bounded gratitude, but which does not extend so far as to on our previous knowledge) it will follow, that the support give us the exclusive possession of our heavenly Father's love of the Holy Ghost as promised to Christians must be of and mercy. greater and more blessed efficacy than any which the heathen But, the distinction once removed which confines to Chriscan look for.
tians only the sanctifying grace of God, no reason can be Nor, though the state of these last be freed, on this hypo-given why such grace should be restricted to any particular thesis, from thar hopeless abandonment to which some mis- persons, either among the Heathens, Christians, or Jews; or judging Christians have consigued them, is the Christian why the merciful patience of God which leads us to repent
ance, should not, together with his ready help by which only The seaman, till the anchor is cast, forsakes not the care of repentance is possible, be extended to every capable subject. his helm; the martyr, whose pardon was laid before him on That equal grace is given to all, both religion and experience the conditions of his apostasy, exhorted his persecutors, as alike deny ; but that any are altogether excluded from its in- they loved his soul, to remove from him that temptation. fluence, the observations which have been already made will, With both, the intensity of hope is allayed with an attendant apparently, forbid us to maintain. I can duly appreciate, and anxiety, lest hy any fault of theirs they should perish in the I can sincerely honour that reverence for the power and purity very moment when all their toils were about to terminate. of God's Spirit, which has induced so many wise and holy To a wicked man the doctrine of predestination is too often men to limit its presence to those only who are finally tri- the cause of a dangerous and deadly downfall, because he is umphant over sin: but do we indeed diminish the value of glad to use it as an excuse for neglecting those interests which his gift or tarnish the brightness of his mercy, when we sup- he does not really regard. To a good man, if his reason be pose it, like the sun of our mental system, to dart its perva- sound, it can, probably, do little harm; and may, sometimes, ding blessedness from the midst of heaven on all who do not beyond a doubt, administer comfort under temptation, and wilfully shut their eyes against the day? Or shall we, who inspire him with a gratitude which is not less warm or pure have the privilege of approaching nearer to its beams, be in- because the hope on which it rests is founded on an erroneous different to our brightest prospect, because the ends of the opinion. earth are not immersed in total darkness ; and because the But, neither the good man nor the sinner can be really as. witness of the Most High has not entirely forsaken those serted to believe in predestination, inasmuch as without hope tribes on whom the purer day-spring has not dawned ? enjoyment would be impossible, and without danger caution
From this universality, however, of grace, a second corol-super uous. The great detector of sophistry, our natural lary arises; that grace, namely, may, so far as onr personal apprehension, exclaims aloud against every atiempt at selfsanctification is concerned, be resisted and rendered vain. deceit; and, if we value our lives or our souls, we dare not Were it otherwise, indeed, there could be no condemnation commit either the one or the other to the hazard of those at all, since no man is punished but for neglect of grace. principles which we stimulate our fancy to conceive, and But, if grace may be at first withstood, no reason can be torture our understanding to maintain. given why it should ever, in this life, become irresistible; or why we should not, till death, retain the fatal power of falling from our highest proficiency. It follows that the doctrine of assurance, as that doctrine, at least, is cominonly expressed, is an opinion groundless and illusory; that though on our present state of acceptance with God our conscience is reason
LECTURE VII. ably said to bear us witness, yet is it impossible, without the gift of prophecy or the crime of presumption, to anticipate our I tell you the truth ; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I final perseverance in godliness; with that degree of confidence go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I de. which many pions men profess to feel.
part, I will send him unto you.—John xvi. 7. It may be suspected indeed, (and well it is for them that such a case is possible,) that those excellent persons have not, That the name of Comforter here given to the Holy Ghost in reality, that unbounded assurance of final salvation to was given in anticipation of some peculiar and permanent which they, however sincerely, lay claim; and that they favour to be conferred by him on the orphan church of Christ, confound those feelings which arise from a high degree of it has been already my endeavour to prove. And I have show, probability, with that stronger effect which is produced in the in like manner, that these essential characteristics of permasoul by the contemplation of what is absolutely certain. nence and peculiarity will evince that benefit, whatever it may
The circumstances are of very rare occurrence, in which be, to be something distinct both from the gifts of miracle and this certainty is possible to man; and the highest degree of prophecy, which were accorded to a single generation only faith will, perhaps, fall vastly short of it. But, though the of Christians; and from those more common aids and larger sense of probability is in its nature a conditional expecta- influences, whence not the Christian virtues only, but every tion, we may, doubtless, by inferring the future from the past, act and word and thought have issued, which hath thrown a exhilarate or depress the soul to a degree of joy or misery transitory gleam of light and beauty over that gloomy prosvery hardly to be distinguished in definition from that cer- pect which is offered to the mental view by the natural state tainty which belongs, it may be thought, to present objects of mankind. only.
For, as the comfort of God's Spirit was promised to ChrisIn practice, however, and in their effects on the subsequent tians only, and as it was promised to the universal Church conduct, such feelings are easily distinguishable. What we of Christ in every age of its duration, it is plain that such indeed regard as certain we are never found to strive against specific benefit could not consist in a bounty, however great, or to forward: but that confidence of which we only persuade in which Christians partake with some of those to whom the ourselves is by far too weak to hold out against the excite- name of Christ is unknown; and that we can with yet less ments of hope or terror. The merest fatalist, if life be dear ground of probability identify it with a privilege which was to him, will take care, notwithstanding his professed opin- confined to the Apostles and their immediate successors. ions, to guard his head in battle : the sturdiest predestina- We have still, then, to inquire after an instance of celesrian, when temptations arise, is truly and piously disquieted. tial bounty more accurately corresponding with the terms of
And, though the recollection of frequent victories over sin Christ's prediction. And such an instance it is not impossimay, doubtless, yield a well-grounded hope that we shall not ble to find, to which external aids and internal graces are be hereafter defeated; though the probability that we shall attendant only and incidental appendages; a bounty in the be supported to-morrow as we were yesterday and the day hopes and promises of which, the Christian alone, and Chrisbefore, may kindle in the good man a holy joy and gratitude, tians of every age and nation are partakers and proprietors, which, for the moment, casts out fear; yet that this trouble- and of which the privileges, as they were purchased by the some but necessary guest must, nevertheless, ere long return, sinless obedience and meritorious sufferings of the second is apparent from the circumstance, that the good man does not Person in the Deity, so were they conferred on us in plenary fail to continue those precautions which the apprehension of enjoyment, by the advent and inspiration of the Third in that danger alone can dictate.
mysterious essence. There is an awful difference between the absence of doubt That the Son of God is the object, yet more than the teacher and the sensation of perfect confidence. That we shall sleep of the Christian faith; that he did not “bear testimony of to-night as safely as we slept the night before, there is none himself," and that he left to the subsequent doctrine and illoof us, perhaps, who questions; and, if we think on the sub-mination of the Paraclete to record and explain those awtul ject at all, we rejoice in our sense of that merciful protection, dispensations whereby he triumphed over death and hell, is without which the watchman waketh but in vain. Yet do evident from that ignorance which, till the advent of the Holy we none of us neglect to secure our doors against assault, Ghost, the chosen followers of our Lord displayed as to the which, if assault were impossible, would, surely, be a futile nature of their Master's kingdom. An ignorance it was introuble. The mariner in sight of his desired haven is as glad deed, so total, and to us so extraordinary, that the greater as if his voyage were already concluded : and the saint be- number of commentators have been rashly induced to ascribe side his funeral pile may exult with reason that a crown is it to a degree of national prejudice or natural incapacity is laid up for him for evermore. But neither the one nor the those whom Christ selected to instruct the world, which, as other is so sure of his safety, as to contound what is only ex- it would be beyond all bounds of probability, so is it alcotremely probable with wliai is absolutely decreed by heaven.gether needless to enhance the wonder of the fact, that the world has been, by their means, converted. Enough there was amply sufficient to entitle that blessed Person to the is of miracle to confound the wisdom of the wise, and to name of Paraclete. Nor do the effects which this dispensaestablish the celestial origin of our religion, in the event stion produced on the world at large, less strikingly answer which all parties allow, that the fabric of Paganism was to those other features whereby the Paraclete was io be disoverturned by a few Galilean peasants, without the further tinguished as a Patron to the Christian cause, and a Defensupposition, ihat these instruments of God's will were less der of the Son of Man against the slanders of his hostile favoured in intellect or acuteness than others of their rank countrymen. The Spirit of God, in his character of Paraand nation. Nor must we forget that, by how much the clete, was to testify, it will be remembered, of the innocence more we underrate the extent of their intelligence, by so and inspiration of the Messiah: he was to convict the world much do we decrease the weight, which, even in facts most of the guilt which they had incurred in rejecting him; he was obvious to their eyes and ears, we can reasonably assign to to vindicate at once the character of Jesus from the charges their testimony.
of imposture or enthusiasm, and the name of God from the In truth, however, I can discover no single passage in suspicion of injustice and cruelty. His appointed function it Scripture from which we may infer that they had either was to reconcile the righteousness of the Deity with those stronger prejudices against the truth, or less of natural ca- awful dispensations which had lately doomed the innocent to pacity, or greater ignorance of the sacred writings of the death, and to make the dignity of the Messiah consistent ancient covenant, than even the wisest members of the San- with the sufferings of a houseless wanderer in the kingdom of hedrim. At all events, the phenomenon to which I have al- bis ancestors, a crucified victim to the jealousy of the state, luded may be more reverently and as satisfactorily accounted beneath the walls of his own Jerusalem. for by the recollection of that fact which is implied in so Objections these, which, great as the miracles of Jesus many passages of the Gospel ; that the time, namely, was not doubtless were, those miracles could not entirely solve; much come at which the veil of mystery should be withdrawn from less could the exercise of power by which his followers were, the designs of God, and that the work of our redemption was after his exaltation to the throne of glory, enabled to bear witto be complete in all its parts, before it was exposed to the ness to his truth. Such powers were, indeed, a very suffipublic eye and to the curiosity and devotion of the universe. cient evidence that he was a Prophet sent by Jehovah. But
It is thus that the atonement for sin by the meritorious this was not enough to answer the purposes of the Apostles sacrifice of the Messiah, which is expressed, in the Epistles and of the truth; and it was required, moreover, to prove him of St. Paul and St. John, with a precision and a copiousness to be that particular Prophet and Saviour on whom the hope answerable to its vast importance, is conveyed, in the lan- of Israel depended; and not of Israel only, but of all the nations guage of our Saviour while on earth, by scattered hints and in the universal earth. ihrough the darkness of prophecy and parable. It is thus, And to such a claim two objections might be raised, which too, that though the supercession of the Mosaic law be, un- no miraculous powers on the part either of Christ or his doubtedly, deducible from the moment in which a new and Apostles could obviate, inasmuch as they arose from facts better covenant was established by our Lord's fulfilment of which could not be denied, and which, if unexplained, were that which was to pass away, yet the authoritative explanation absolutely inconsistent with the character of the Messiah of this mystery, (which, while Christ was yet on earth, his promised by God. And these circumstances were the lowlidisciples were unprepared to receive) can only be found in ness of his rank in life, and the manner in which lie suffered the teaching of God's Spirit through the Apostles.
death. The Holy Ghost, then, as I have already had occasion to The first of these was inconsistent, as every Jew might observe, was the Hierophant of the Christian mysteries ; the urge, with the character of a great deliverer; since, whatever Dispenser of that universal pardon which the Son had pur- might have been his innocence and extraordinary powers ; chased with his blood; the Herald to mankind, by the means however dear he might have been to God, and however apof his Prophets and Apostles, of that better covenant of grace proved in his sight; nay, though he were allowed to have which should supersede, in after ages, the fleshly ordinances risen from the grave like Lazarus, and, like Enoch and Elias, of Sinai.
to have ascended to heaven; yet, neither during his public But that such a discovery was, to the followers of our life, nor after his alleged resurrection, had he, in fact, Lord, sufficient both of comfort and compensation for his de- any more than Enoch or Elias or Lazarus, accomplished any parture from the world, is apparent from the importance of visible deliverance, whether for the world at large, or for the the communication itself, no less than of the practical results chosen people of God. and illustrious hopes to which their eyes were thenceforward But, if he had wrought no deliverance, then was he no deopened. They no more looked forward with mistaken and liverer, and, if no Saviour, no Messiah. “How,” say the painful anxiety to the restitution of a national greatness which Rabbins in that work to which they have prefixed the ostentheir countrymen were unfit alike to maintain or to enjoy. tatious title of Nizacchon or “the Victorious," " How can No more did they contemplate their Master as the sovereign Jesus be called the Admirable Counsellor, whose designs of a great, indeed, but not an unbounded empire. They beheld even Judas rendered vain? How is he strong, who was subhim seated on the throne of Omnipotence itself, confining in dued by Death ? How the eternal Father, who perished in bis invincible grasp the keys of death and of hell; and wor- the midst of his days? How the Prince of Peace, whose life shipped by all the countless multitude of those whom his was spent in trouble ?" blood had ransomed from the grave. Themselves they found It was necessary, then, to prove that, by the agency of our released from a yoke which neither they nor their fathers Lord, some great salvation had in reality been affected ; and had been able to endure;" translated from the elementary this wus proved by the promulgation of that covenant, wherebondage of ceremonies and sacrifices to the glorious liberty in, for the sake of the Son of man, and through the merits of of God; no longer servants but sons.
his obedience and sacrifice, the burden and curse of the Law The Gentile was not now excluded from the more perfect were removed, and forgiveness of sins accorded. His title knowledge and nearer favour of the common Parent of man- was thus established to the appropriate name of JESUS, kind: the Jew was no more the member of a small and un-because he saved his people from their sins ;” and the most popular community, divided from the great family of earth formidable of those objections was removed, which could not by exclusive, and, in their effect at least, invidious privi- be obviated either by his blameless life, or by the acknowleges. The tabernacle of adoption, like the canopy of heaven, ledged greatness of his miracles. overshadowed all the children of Jehovah; and ihe nations of| The objection which arose from the manner of his death the East and the West were gathered in peace together under was, doubtless, less considerable; yet was it to Jewish prethe wings of the Christian Dove.
judices a very material scandal; inasmuch as, though they Can any wonder that, by their admission to these glorions might be brought to acknowledge, on the authority of Daniel, prospects, the very temper of the Apostles' souls was changed ? that the Messiah was to be cut off,” and, from the testimony that they, thenceforth, no more shrunk back in terror from of Isaiah, that he was to be “sent to prison and to judgment;' the fulfilment of their arduous ministry, no more lamented yet that he should perish by a species of death which, we their departed Lord; no more shut their doors in selfish ind it urged again with malignant triumph by the author of timidity from the notice or displeasure of their countrymen ? the Nizacchon, the Almighty had declared accursed, was a that they from that moment rejoiced under allliction, and glo- difficulty only to be solved by the knowledge of that mysterirified God that "they were counted worthy to sutler shame ous and awful dispensation whereby the innocent was made in the cause of Christ ?”
a curse for the guilty. As a comfort, then, and compensation to the afflicted fol- It was thus that the revelation of the covenant of grace, lowers of Jesus, the discovery of that new and better cove- which was made through the Apostles to mankind, was both nant, which was revealed by inspiration of the Holy Ghost, needful and efficacious to lead ihem into truth, and to bring